Behind The Scenes | NPS Head, Rob MacNeice image

Behind The Scenes | NPS Head, Rob MacNeice

For over forty five years, Nikon Professional Services (NPS) has supported working professional photographers and videographers who earn their living using Nikon equipment.

It’s a truly global service, with representation in over 31 countries and thousands upon thousands of members who rely on the NPS for support with priority servicing and loan equipment if repairs take longer than a few days.

Fixation has been supporting Nikon professionals since we started in 1988. In fact, until 1996, Nikon was the only brand we repaired, so you could say we have a bit of a soft spot for the brand.

Rob MacNeice has been with Nikon UK for 12 years and for the last four years has overseen the NPS scheme in the UK with his dedicated team.

We recently cornered Rob to find out more about NPS.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Rob. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in NPS?

I’d always been interested in photography from a young age and actually started my career as a baby portrait photographer! I worked at Jessops for 10 years, ultimately becoming a store manager, and then I came to Nikon, starting as a customer support agent. I used to handle all calls from end users; technical enquiries, repair questions – pretty much everything! A couple of years later the NPS division broke away from customer support and I’ve been with them ever since.

Nikon technicians backstage at the Champions League Final

Are you a keen photographer yourself, or do you prefer to leave cameras well alone when you’re not working?

My Dad put a camera in my hands when I was about three years old and I’ve loved photography ever since, but (laughing) sometimes I don’t want to see a camera when I get home! Saying that, it’s still – and will probably always be – one of my life’s passions and I think once it’s in your blood it’s there for good. I do take a lot of personal images but these days it’s mainly family shots.

NPS attends major sporting events throughout the year, but is there a particularly busy period?

We’re pretty busy all year round to be honest, but the really hectic period starts now! We’re at Wimbledon until the finals weekend when we have to race over to Silverstone to cover the Formula One, followed by the Open Golf at Royal Birkdale. It’s very tiring but good fun and extremely rewarding.

Photographers get their hands on some long Nikkor lenses at The Photography Show

Can you describe a typical day at Wimbledon?

We’re set up in the Photo workroom helping photographers with any issues they might have with their kit. We have a team of technicians that can carry out on-the-spot repairs, such as replacing grip rubbers, or even just helping with any settings issues such as setting up their network profiles. We also keep a wide range of back up equipment that the photographers can borrow if we need to carry out more in-depth repairs and it’s also a good opportunity for these guys to try equipment before they buy. Overall it’s about us being there for the photographers and helping in any way we can.

Do you have any memorable experiences from an event?

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences over the years, but one funny moment springs to mind. I was fortunate enough to work at the world cup in South Africa in 2010 and we were loaning out equipment at the stadium in Rustenburg. A photographer came up and asked if he could borrow some gear, as he didn’t have much equipment himself. All we had at the time was the D3s, so I lent him a body and lens and he went away very happy. Five minutes later he came back and innocently asked “where do I put the film?”!

You must have met some highly regarded photographers over the years. Are there any that particularly stand out?

Goodness me, that’s a tough question. I’ve met so many fantastic photographers out there using Nikon gear that it’s hard to name names, but I’d have to say I feel very lucky to have worked very closely with wildlife photographer David Yarrow recently. We had a meeting with him a couple of years ago and he showed us his book ‘Encounter’, which blew us away with the quality of images and within a few days we’d signed him up as a Nikon Ambassador! He has a different approach to his photography; most wildlife shooters will be 100 yards away from their subject and shoot with a 600mm lens, whereas David will be up close and personal with a 35mm.

There must be some Nikon photographers out there, who own the necessary kit to join the scheme, but haven’t as yet. What benefits are these photographers missing out on?

There are a number of benefits that NPS members enjoy, from a dedicated freephone technical support helpline, to free loan equipment if your kit is away for repair. There’s also the Nikon Pro magazine which is free to NPS members and features work from some of the best photographers in the world. We also host exclusive NPS roadshows which members are invited to. With regards to repairs, I know a lot of NPS members rely on Fixation for their servicing and sensor cleans, and we offer this level of service too, but at the end of the day, as long as our members are being looked after, we’re happy.

Rob was speaking with Tim Stavrinou.

Behind The Scenes | CPS Head, Frankie Jim image

Behind The Scenes | CPS Head, Frankie Jim

Since its inception almost 20 years ago, Canon Professional Services has proved to be a valuable source of information, inspiration and support for people who rely on Canon equipment for their livelihood.

CPS is a huge operation, with representation in over 16 countries. The services offered range from free loan equipment, access to CPS support teams at major international and local events and a priority repair service – something that Fixation have been offering since 1996.

With Canon’s increased presence in the Pro Video market, cinematographers can also benefit from CPS support.

We caught up with Frankie Jim, Head of Canon Professional Services, Canon UK & Ireland to find out more about the scheme.


Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Frankie. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in CPS?

I joined Canon 9 years ago and have looked after CPS from day one. I was aware of CPS before I joined Canon but back then, the benefits were mainly faster repairs. Once I got the job, I immersed myself in the program and challenged what it was. What do we do for our loyal users who have invested but have never needed a priority repair?

My role at Canon allows me to interact with many different customers with varying needs which has helped evolve CPS into a program that focuses on three key aspects: Service, Training and Experiences. Having owned a significant amount of professional Canon equipment myself, I am acutely aware of the investment and loyalty our customers have in the brand and the support we offer which is why we will always strive to improve and develop the CPS offering.

To be involved in CPS, you need a range of attributes, my background in photography, past roles developing loyalty programmes, planning and executing events as well as customer training has helped develop a program where membership is growing year on year.

Are you a keen photographer yourself, or do you prefer to leave cameras well alone when you’re not working?

I’ve had an interest in photography for a long time. I developed, processed and made my own prints before moving onto commercial mini labs a short time after. My first camera was a Canon EOS 100 film camera which was Canon’s quietest SLR at that time which suited my reportage style of shooting.

A large part of my role at Canon is talking and engaging with some of the best photographers on the planet so I am always inspired to shoot but time doesn’t always allow. It does however enable me to share their experiences so others can learn even if they come from different genres.

CPS attends all the major events throughout the year, but is there a particularly busy period?

To be honest, it’s busy most of the time! The events themselves are fantastic touchpoints to see some of the best photographers in action. It allows us to offer our technical support, get their cameras checked and cleaned as well as provide equipment trial loans for those who are thinking of upgrading.

The busiest periods are always the weeks leading up to the event, the logistics, planning, accreditation, staffing, training, last minute changes etc. We are meticulous in our planning and our attention to detail. We always put together a strong support team for the events themselves to ensure the support we offer is the very best it can be.

Do you have any memorable experiences from an event?

I feel very fortunate to have supported many events as although the hours are always long; the occasion, experience and atmosphere at some of these is not to be missed. I have many highlights but if I was to name three, I would say my first season at London Fashion Week, the Federer vs Nadal final at Wimbledon and lastly, the World Athletics Championships in Berlin when Usain Bolt broke the world record in the 100m Men’s sprint final.

You must have met some highly regarded photographers over the years. Are there any that particularly stand out?

I’ve met many talented photographers over the years from many different genres and it wouldn’t be fair to single out a few without mentioning the others. I will mention one however as he is someone whose images highlighted for me at an early age the power of photography. I think he is one of the greatest living photographers ever and a boyhood hero of mine, I’m talking about Sir Don McCullin who I was fortunate to meet at the Photography Show a few years ago. It was such an incredibly humbling experience to meet someone who I’ve admired for a long time but never thought I would ever meet.

There must be some Canon photographers out there, who own the necessary kit to join the scheme, but haven’t as yet. What benefits are these photographers missing out on?

CPS benefits include priority service, technical support, a dedicated helpline and onsite support at many major events. In addition, we offer training, inspiration and experience days such as our popular CPS+ Experience days, opportunity to attend amazing talks such as Sebastião Salgado at the Photography Show, chance to attend a special session at the World Press Photo Exhibition in Edinburgh as well as opportunities to be one of the first to get hands on with the latest Canon pro products days after the announcements.

Frankie was talking to Tim Stavrinou.

For more information on CPS visit the website here

Behind The Scenes | Wimbledon with Toby Melville image

Behind The Scenes | Wimbledon with Toby Melville

As celebrated as the traditional strawberries & cream, Wimbledon fortnight is well underway and both the permanent and temporary inhabitants of SW19 are undoubtedly praying for two weeks of dry weather.

Long-time Reuters staff photographer Toby Melville has been photographing at Wimbledon for the last 20 years (missing three occasions thanks to Glastonbury and the World Cup) and we caught up with him between assignments to find out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes at the UK’s most prestigious tennis tournament.

Toby Melville self-portrait on Court No. 1 | 5th July 2017 | © REUTERS/Toby Melville

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Toby. I understand you’re currently standing outside No. 10 Downing Street!

Yes, it’s been so busy for the last few weeks. I’ve been covering the election, the attacks in London and the Grenfell Tower fire, so I’m quite looking forward to the relative peace and quiet of Wimbledon.

How much of your work is centred around Sports?

I would guess on an annual basis that around a third of what I shoot is sports oriented, with the rest made up of politics, breaking news and business. At this time of year though, with Ascot, Wimbledon and the World Athletic Championships coming up, that figure goes up to around 75% – providing breaking news doesn’t get in the way! A few years ago I was lucky enough to cover the Australian Open for two years on the trot, but generally speaking, for Tennis I just cover Wimbledon and the ATP Finals.

Can you describe a typical day at Wimbledon?

Even though play doesn’t start until 11.30am, for the first few days I’ll get to the grounds early to capture some feature shots – crowds, stadium shots – that sort of thing and it’s also a good time to get shots of the players warming up. For the first week there are 5 Reuters photographers and we’ll have a team meeting around 9.30am to decide which photographers are covering which games and then we’ll all head to our various courts. We never know what time the games are going to finish; for some matches it could be all over in under an hour in 2 sets, whereas the men’s matches could stretch to 5 sets and last 5 hours. I tend to keep updated through the Wimbledon app on my phone or through a messaging group with my colleagues to see what opportunities have presented themselves. The on-site editor will also be reviewing the images we’ve selected ourselves and wired through, and he’ll advise on where we should move to. The truth is we don’t always know where our colleagues are and sometimes have to move quickly, but by and large the system works very well. For the two show courts – Centre and No. 1 – we’ll have a photographer based there every day until the ‘business end’ of the competition where they’ll usually be two photographers per organisation.

How do you decide which courts a particular photographer covers?

It’s a fairly democratic system and we tend to rotate every day. As I mentioned before, there’ll be a photographer on Centre Court and No.1 Court, and the remaining three will try and cover as many of the other matches as they feasibly can, so it’s only sections of the match – hopefully the beginning and some good action during the match, and the reactions at the finish. The photographers based on the show courts will also help out on the outside courts if their games look like they’re going on for a while.

The view from Court No. 3 | 4th July 2017 | © REUTERS/Toby Melville

It sounds like you do a lot of running around, especially for the first few days of the tournament! How easy is it to get around the grounds?

It’s pretty straightforward to be honest, even though the grounds are a bit of a labyrinth. You soon learn where the crowded areas are and try and avoid them where possible, but there are some underground tunnels that we’re allowed to use which help getting from court to court quickly. After a couple of days you also learn where the light works best in your favour and makes the action shots a little more creative.

Do you use remote cameras on the courts?

Unfortunately not. The Wimbledon authorities have never been keen on allowing them, at least for editorial photographers, but there are a lot of good working positions courtside, so it’s not too much of a problem.

When I see images from Wimbledon, there’s often a certain ‘look’ that other Tennis tournaments don’t seem to have. Can you think why this might be?

As well as the traditional green, purple and white colours that we all associate with Wimbledon, the ground staff and organisers go to great lengths to ensure the place looks its best for spectators and the television cameras. There’s also a distinct lack of adverts around the courts which certainly makes our job a lot easier, not having to avoid large sections of advertising when framing a shot. Very similar to the Olympics in fact, where generally the only background imagery in the shots are the Olympic rings.

Shooting from a high spot on Court No. 1 | 5th July 2017 | © REUTERS/Toby Melville

Is there a good sense of camaraderie amongst the photographers?

Absolutely, yes.  A few years ago I used to see specialist tennis photographers from overseas who would come to Wimbledon every year and it was a great opportunity for a catch-up, but that happens less and less these days. Regarding the UK based photographers, I pretty much know all my peers quite well, and we all look out for one another, despite the fact that we’re competing against each other most of the time! When you see that a rival photographer, through skill, judgement and a dose of luck, has got the picture of the day, from the match of the day, there’s always room for a pat on the back and congratulations. I’ve been working in London for 20 years and know most of these guys as friends as well as colleagues.

Roughly how many photographers are there at Wimbledon and what are the back-end facilities like?

In total there are around 240 photographers and editors from media organisations, and around 28 Wimbledon staff photographers, so it gets pretty busy in the wire room! In terms of working facilities, I have to say that Wimbledon is brilliant. Even in these days of Wi-Fi, we tend to still use ethernet on the courts, for speed and reliability. The media centre was totally modernised for the 2012 Olympics and the support the photographers get is second to none. At large events like this we tend to make quick selections on the back of the camera and let the the on-site editors take care of final choices. When you get to the semi-finals, the photographers will have their cameras set to auto send all frames at key moments in the match, and the editors have to make some very quick decisions as to which images to run with.

What’s in your kit bag?

I always carry 3 bodies and depending on the court I’m on and the position I’m in, I’ll have a 70-200 ƒ/2.8 on one, a 500mm ƒ/4 or a 200-400mm ƒ/4 on another, and a 16-35mm on the 3rd body in case something happens right in front of me and I need to go wide. I’ll always keep a 2x converter handy if I need to go tight for a particular shot too.

Not wishing to tempt fate, but one last question I have to ask. What do you do when play is rained off?

On Centre court it’s not really an issue these days as the roof means it’s always in operation, but otherwise I grab a few wet weather pictures and catch up on my work expenses!

Toby was talking to Tim Stavrinou.

To learn more about his work, see the feature on Reuters’ website here

Behind The Scenes | Daniel Hambury

Behind The Scenes | Daniel Hambury

Most professional photographers would be happy running their own picture agency, but London-based freelance photographer Daniel Hambury doesn’t believe in resting on his laurels.

In 2002 he set up Stella Pictures to showcase his varied range of commissions, portraits and editorial work. He then went on to set up Focus Images in 2006 – dedicated to Sports photography – offering a huge archive of images and offering live delivery of Premier and Football league shots.

daniel-hamburyDaniel in the studio | © Matt Writtle

We caught up with Daniel recently over a cuppa to find out what keeps him motivated in his work.

How did you first get interested in photography?

My parents were Leica dealers. They had a shop in east London and then relocated to the Suffolk coast when I was 9 years old. I grew up surrounded by beautiful cameras.

How long have you worked as a professional photographer?

I graduated from Norfolk College of Art in 1993.  An ex Evening Standard snapper called Stuart Goodman tipped me off about a local newspaper job in Cambridgeshire. I got it, and started in the November of that year; I’ve been lucky enough to earn my living with my cameras ever since.

SPL-ANDY-LEE-09-compressor© Daniel Hambury

What equipment do you normally use?

I’ve shot Nikon my whole working life.  I use a pair of D4s for sport with a 400mm ƒ/2.8 along side a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 and an old D3 as a remote camera. For features/portraits I use a D810 and a D800 alongside prime lenses. I also, unsurprisingly, have a film Leica (M3) and recently purchased a M240.

SPL-ANTONIO-HORTA-OSORIO-02-compressor© Daniel Hambury

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I get the chance to shoot sport every weekend at least, which I totally adore.  I love football and still play very badly each week. To be up close and personal with some of the world’s best players in the Premier League is a privilege. Of course it’s not just the top division, sometimes it’s more fun at a lower league game. The Premier League is a little ‘clean and sanitised’ whereas ‘real football’ is found in league 1 or 2.

Scott Parker | © Daniel Hambury | PA Photos

In terms of portraiture, I get the chance to spend 20-30 minutes in the company of some very high profile, interesting people. Alongside my love of sport, I very much enjoy politics and so to shoot portraits of these types of people is such a joy.

I am almost always shooting exclusively so I can engage the subject, boss them around a little and hopefully get them to open up. I learnt very early in my career that portraiture is a combined effort between the subject and myself. If they don’t buy in to my idea it shows. I feel I can talk to people from most walks of life and I honestly believe this is an essential skill in an editorial photographer’s armoury.

You take a lot of photographs on your travels. Does it sometimes feel like a busman’s holiday?

No. I would still be taking pictures of my travels even if I weren’t a pro. I’m lucky to have travelled to about 70 countries and to have my camera with me in almost all of them.

I’m a parent of two young boys now, so when they are a little older, my wife and I will undoubtedly travel with backpacks, kids, and a camera again.

SPL-JOHN-MALKOVICH-06-compressor© Daniel Hambury

To what extent do you rely on Fixation for your work?

I can honestly say that Fixation has saved my working life on two occasions. When kit fails, which it inevitably does, I can trust Barry at Fixation to ‘just make it OK again’. His friendly nature, and world-class professional standards help me to push my kit on a yearly basis. The cameras are just the tools of my trade, so I’m not overly precious about them, which keeps Barry busy! I also buy almost all of my gear from Fixation, as I’m fully aware of how important it is to keep supporting a place that has helped me.

I’ve been a customer for a while now, since the days in Bondway, and it’s great having a dedicated sales team, with Donal and his colleagues.

As well as this, the sofas by the camera bags make for a very nice place to file from, especially when you get a nice cuppa!

SPL-MAYA-YOSHIDA-09-compressor© Daniel Hambury

Does video feature much in your work, and how important do you think it will be going forward?

I am a massively late adopter of video. In truth the moving image seemed so complicated I procrastinated for a very long time.

Recently I educated myself a little by taking a two-day course and this has helped me lots.

The timing was great as my company was commissioned to shoot two corporate films in 2016. I hired one of my old mates, a professional filmmaker, and assisted him over the 6 and 3 days shooting respectively. I learnt so much, especially how important pre shoot is, and that sound quality is vital.

Since then, more video commissions have come in. Some smaller, which I have shot on my Nikons, and some larger where broadcast cameras were needed.

It is a very different skill from stills, and I still have lots to learn.

PA-Floyd-Mayweather-compressorFloyd Mayweather | © Daniel Hambury | PA Photos

Your work covers a wide range of genres. Do you have a favourite?

What I really love is the variety of my work. I shoot sport and portraits as I’ve covered but also have a large number of commercial clients alongside a charity I work for regularly. As editorial work becomes harder to maintain a living from, I need these commercial clients so I can survive in the tough market place. I am happy with a camera in my hand, and the fact I can pay the mortgage by taking pictures still means I’m very lucky.

PA-NMKT-RACES-02-compressorNewmarket Races | © Daniel Hambury | PA Photos

Daniel was talking to Tim Stavrinou.
To see more of his work, see Stella Pictures & Focus Images

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